The SidevieW ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ theme brings to mind not only the entrance to Wonderland, but reminds one of the wardrobe of the Narnia books, the train platform for Hogwarts, and many more. I thought I’d take the opportunity to show the entrances to a couple of my own fantasy worlds. All my Magic Circle ones feature bubble-like walls, and The Mouse features in two of the extracts, because they relate to different parts of the same Circle:
He drew closer, and still closer, and everything around him seemed to be shimmering …
… and suddenly, with a ‘popping’ feeling, as if he were a cork that had just been pulled out of a bottle, he found himself sitting on a log, surrounded by the enormous trees. A high-pitched ‘Peeep!’ sounded, and then a squeaky voice said, ‘Welcome to Fabulous Forest. You have logged in to The Net at fifteen hundred hours, five minutes, and four seconds. Peeep!’
The squeaky speaker was a mouse, standing on a large lily pad floating in the air a bit to his right, at about the same level as the top of the log. A plank with keys of every size and shape hanging on pegs was also in midair, slightly to the left of him, and what seemed to be a large square fishnet hung from nothing some distance in front. As Baa looked at it, the net started to glow and a number of tiny pictures appeared down one side. There seemed to be a bunch of dragons, various castles, strange-looking houses, a group of fairies, some unicorns, and any number of creatures and things he couldn’t begin to guess the names of.
Still meekly, but with a lot of green dancing in her eyes, Regina kicked off her sandals, fastened all the leg straps, took the deepest breath she could, and tightened the top ones until the garment fitted her exactly while her lungs were full. ‘Whatever side he’s on, I’m on the other one,’ she whispered to Tickle, now standing on the dressing table next to her. She picked up the sheathed sword, tried to tuck it into the straps, gave up, and carried it.
Then the Magician beckoned, and the two followed him through the bubble wall, Regina taking rather ridiculously short, fast steps from having to keep her knees close together.
As Regina and Tickle emerged from the ‘bubble’ their ears felt strange, as if they had suddenly shot out of deep water. Their eyes blinked and watered in the almost blinding light from a sun that seemed higher than it had been at home. They cringed as a wave of heat struck them, like opening an oven door. The trouble was, the door didn’t close again. This seemed to be the normal temperature. Regina couldn’t understand how the Magician could stand his coat, leggings and boots, nor how the four who had carried the sword, and were now standing with three of the biggest horses she had ever seen, could bear being in livery. She even felt sorry for Tickle, although his Siamese fur was not very thick.
In spite of the heat, Tickle bounded high into the air with every step, and Regina found that for some reason she seemed to be able to take the same number of paces as the Magician but still move ahead of him, instead of her hobbling quickstep in the bedroom.
The horses were attached to three two-wheeled chariots shaped rather like cut-off catamaran boats. A sharp prow came forward on either side of the animals, with a handrail a little way back from each of the points. Behind the handrails were platforms where the charioteers apparently stood. Five spears were mounted on either side of the chariots, facing forward, but it seemed that these could be spread out to make a protective barrier, as one of them had its spears extended rather like opening a fan. Each massive horse had armour on its chest, and a spike extended from it. Regina found herself thinking that a chariot like that, pulled at a gallop towards a foot soldier, would be enough to make him wish he’d joined the navy.
Meekly, they followed as the creature led them some way back across the common in the direction of their home. Then, the lamb veered off onto a pathway leading towards a group of small trees at the far end, waiting for them as they skirted the worst of the puddles – this had been the first time the rain had stopped for the whole weekend. They knew the copse well, having picnicked and played there from youngest childhood, but now as soon as they entered it something looked strange and unfamiliar. The path seemed to end abruptly and, as if through slightly frosted glass, they could see trees larger than any they had ever noticed there before, and beyond them a glimpse of a garden far too beautiful to be real.
The lamb motioned with his head again, and as he went ahead of them his outline seemed to blur. Unconsciously grabbing one another’s hands (they never held hands, normally) the Parkers followed. They had the strangest feeling: a bit like when ears are blocked and they get unblocked suddenly, but more as if their bodies had been taken apart and put back together again all in an instant. Then, so many strange things were happening it was hard to take them all in.
They were standing on a log. The trees, and glimpses of garden between them, no longer looked hazy, but seemed even more breathtakingly lovely. To their left, the lamb was facing them with an eager expression; while to their right was a mouse, standing on hind legs in the middle of a lily pad floating in the air. Next to him hovered a board with all sorts of keys dangling from pegs. Beyond was something like a large square fishnet, hanging in midair as if pegged on a line.
A high-pitched ‘Peep, peep!’ came from the direction of the mouse, followed by a voice saying squeakily, ‘Welcome to Fabulous Forest. You have logged in at …’
‘Never mind that now, there isn’t time. You can log them in when – and if – they come back.’ Now the speaker was … no, it couldn’t be … but it was! The lamb!
Percival turned to his sister. ‘If this is a dream, I suppose it must be a nightmare, with you in it,’ he said, hastily releasing her hand.
© Colonialist May 2013 (WordPress)